Volunteer Training

Orientation Class

You will be required to attend an orientation class for either dog volunteers or cat volunteers. The minimum age to be a dog volunteer is 16. For cats the minimum age is 14. Staff and experienced volunteers facilitate these classes, usually held once monthly in the evening. Here you will learn shelter volunteer procedures, safety, various jobs, areas accessible to volunteers, etc.  The second step to become a volunteer is a hands-on training class for the species of your choice.

We have recently modified the training requirements for Dog volunteers. In addition to an Orientation Class and a Step Two training class to cover the highlights, we require at least two sessions at which new trainees are mentored by one of our lead volunteers.  We used to stop after the second class, but there is so much to cover we realized we needed more training so the new volunteers are confident doing their job. Because of all the training we no longer will allow fulfillment of Tennessee Promise hours by working with animals. Those hours can still be completed here but it will require laundry, dishes,and other light chores at the shelter.  These changes are intended to build a volunteer team that is able to make a larger commitment of time to the animals rather than a constant stream of new people who come a few times and stop.  We think it is a better use of our time and yours to only train people who can commit in a longer-term way.  We are asking that new volunteers commit to a minimum of 20 hours time spent at WCAC within the first two months.  If you cannot make that commitment, please do not ask us to spend our lead volunteers' time and yours training you for dogs or cats.

In order to make the best use of our volunteer trainers' time we will not train for both cats and dogs until you have been a volunteer for at least one month and have shown that you have the time and desire to be a committed volunteer.  So please select one orientation or the other and following hands-on training you will be able to work with either cats or dogs. If you have shown a commitment to helping the animals during the first month and still want to be trained in the other species, you may contact the Volunteer Coordinator and request that training.

Volunteer Orientation is required for any volunteer job. Each class consists of a classroom-style overview plus a tour of the facility (for cats) and lasts no more than one hour. You will have the option to sign up for the hands-on training at the orientation class.

You will receive an email reminder if you register. Register online by submitting an application or sign up at the shelter to attend the class. YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO ANYTHING ELSE AFTER SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATION. You will receive an email reminder a few days before the next orientation. Please read the Volunteer Handbook (PDF) prior to attending the class.

Upcoming classes are:


CAT Volunteer Orientation - TBD - 6:30 PM @ WCAC
     (This is not for Book Buddies - see Book Buddies tab for info)

DOG Volunteer Orientation - September 12 (Wednesday) 6:30 PM
      At WC Recreation Center, 1120 Hillsboro Road, Franklin 37064

Hands-On Training

After attending orientation, all volunteers must sign up for hands-on training at the shelter. During this session, you will work with an experienced volunteer for about one hour.  You will learn about sign-in procedures, what to do in an emergency, how to store equipment, how to properly secure kennel enclosures and pens, how to report a concern, and receive hands-on training for the job of your choosing.Following this second step of training, dog volunteers will be required to attend mentored training sessions as described above.

Earn Your Apron

Volunteers are rated by the color of aprons they achieve through time and experience. For the protection of the animals in our care, each level has specific access to certain color-coded dogs. See Volunteer Handbook for details.

The 3 levels are:
  1. Red: New volunteer or only able to commit to limited time at WCAC.
  2. Black: 40 hours of volunteering plus informal test  There is a fast-track program for skilled adult volunteers.
  3. Green: Level 2 plus exhibits extensive training skills, exceptional ability and leadership qualities